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Walk the distance

June 2017

Picture courtesy South West Coast PathPicture courtesy South West Coast Path

Walking has to be one of the most popular leisure activities for our age group. It is healthy, social, interesting and can be as challenging as we want.

Also, living in such a beautiful country with so many different areas and terrains, it is no wonder that walkers continue to walk year after year after year.

However, lately there has been a new trend in walkers, and that is to take on the long distance routes and paths that crisscross the UK. These are varied in every aspect, from length and ease, of course, but also from hilly to flat, coastal to scenic inland. But everyone is a wonderful challenge.

The most popular long distance walks in the UK are:
Coast to Coast.
Pennine Way.
South Downs Way
Thames Path
South West Coast Path
West Highland Way.

The Coast to coast walk, all 192 miles of it, was first thought of by famous hill walker and writer Alfred Wainwright and covers three spectacular national parks, the Lake district, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Starting at St Bees on the sea cliffs on the west coast, it ends in the quaint fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Additional information that might be of interest can be found at:
coast2coast.co.uk
wainwright.org.uk/coasttocoast.html

 The Pennine Way is even longer, at an amazing 268 miles which means walkers often spread it over short weeks for weeks and months until completed. Starting in Edale, Derbyshire, the route is one of the oldest in England and is said to also be one of the most challenging. You do need hill walking experience and knowledge of navigation as well as the usual preparations when setting out is it covers some of the remotest upland hillside in the country, including the Pennine and Cheviot ranges. The walk finishes at Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish Borders.

Additional information that might be of interest can be found at:
nationaltrail.co.uk/pennine-way
thepennineway.co.uk/

The South Downs Way is 99 miles long starting in Winchester and ending up in Eastboarne in East Sussex. It is considered a moderate walk, and covers a well marked route with lots of spectacular views of the Weald countryside and the sea.  The tracks cover some historic routes used by the Romans and Bronze Age traders.

Additional information that might be of interest can be found at:
southdownsway.co.uk
nationaltrail.co.uk/south-downs-way

The Thames Path is said to be one of the easier long distance walks, covering around 184 miles. It starts at the source of the Thames near Kemble, Gloucester, but this isn’t really very exciting, there is no large spring surging up into the air to mark the start of this great river. But the route itself, ending at the Thames Flood Barrier in East London, includes some picturesque areas through some of England’s most beautiful countryside before you enter interesting areas of London including the river hubs of the east end. The whole route is very well signposted.
thames-path.org.uk/
nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path

The South West Coast Path is what it says, a wonderful walk around the beautiful coastlines of Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.  This isn’t a walk that can be achieved in a few days as it is nearly 630 miles long, but it is a great achievement of course once completed. While some of the path is fairly easy, it does include some serious coastal trekking up and down hills and coastal cliff areas. It starts at South Haven Point near Poole and finishes at MInehead on the north Somerset coast. There are some wonderful sights and also wildlife to be seen on this walk but be aware that some sections are enormously popular, so accommodation needs to be booked well in advance, especially in the summer months.
southwestcoastpath.org.uk/
nationaltrail.co.uk/south-west-coast-path

The West Highland Way was Scotland’s first long distance path and it is one of the most popular walks in Scotland.  It runs for 96 miles from Milngavie on the fringes of Glasgow right up to the foot of Ben Nevis at Fort William.  It sounds very daunting, but in fact most of the very high hill tops are avoided, and the path is considered to be acceptable for most walkers while still having areas of challenge. It is well marked and of course can become far more difficult in bad weather.  However, seeing the fabulous views of the majestic highlands including some lovely loch sides makes it all very worthwhile.
west-highland-way.co.uk/
walkhighlands.co.uk/west-highland-way.shtml

There are a host of other great walks in the UK, including the Ridgeway Path, 86 miles from Overton Hill in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire;  and the famous Cotswold Way from Bath to Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire.  The 134 miles of the Glyndwrs Way in Powys, Wales, is also popular and there are shorter walks of course scattered right across the UK.

Walkers tend to enjoy themselves wherever they go, but if you are looking for a new challenge in walking, then tackling any of these long distance paths will add a new dimension to this wonderful pastime.

There are lots of additional helpful websites for more information on different aspects and different areas, including:
walkingbritain.co.uk/
nationaltrail.co.uk/

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